Summer is right around the corner, and many of us, especially those who live in areas that hit us with pretty cold winters, are not necessarily ready to shed the layers and get out into a bathing suit just yet. Have no fear — many people across the country are in the same boat. While there are no quick fixes or magic diet pills to get you summer-ready in two weeks, there are things you can start doing today to help you feel your best when it comes time to hit the beach.
Many of us don't pay attention to the amount of sugar in our foods. If you read nutrition labels for calories and fat grams only, you are missing out on a very sneaky culprit — sugar. Sugar has a big impact on our bodies, and even innocent foods like low-calorie salad dressing, ketchup and BBQ sauce are loaded with sugar.
A good idea is to start to pay attention to the amount of sugar you are consuming each day. Keep a log or use MyFitnessPal and check to see how many grams of sugar you are eating per day. Many low-calorie and fat-free foods and condiments are filled with sugar to make up for the flavor lost when removing fat. These extra sugars can cause bloating, digestive issues, weight gain and fatigue. Overall, I have made a very big step to reduce sugars in my diet by eating less carbs, which are usually also loaded with sugars.
So many people grab for the salt shaker anytime a plate of food arrives at a restaurant. Try to make it a habit to stop reaching for the salt when going out to eat. Salt retains water in the body and can make you look, and feel, more bloated. There is nothing worse than feeling puffy in a bathing suit, and reducing salt intake can make a big difference in how you look and feel. If you do want to use salt in your cooking, use it sparingly and go with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt instead, which has a lot of good-for-you minerals and nutrients.
A basic pushup can do wonders for your physique. This simple exercise, which requires no gym equipment and very little floor space, should be added into your daily routine. I aim to do at least 3-4 sets of pushups a day. If I am at home on the floor folding laundry, I stop and do 10. If I am on the floor playing with my dog, I do another 10. Before I know it, I've done 50 in a day, and it feels amazing. Pushups help to sculpt your arms, back, shoulders and chest, and there is nothing sexier — in my opinion — on a woman and a man than a chiseled upper body.
We all know that we should be drinking lots of water throughout the day, but how many of you actually drink enough? Contrary to popular belief, drinking a lot of water is not going to make you retain water. Drinking water constantly flushes out your body and will help prevent water retention and bloating. Carry around a 2-liter water jug or a shaker bottle and sip all day long. I like to add slices of lemon to my water or a scoop of Pineapple BCAA powder for flavor.
You don't need to die on the treadmill for hours on end to get a fat-burning, calorie-crushing workout in. The best cardio is HIIT — High Intensity Interval Training. This is when you do short bursts of super-high intensity followed by low intensity. For me, I like to set my treadmill to 20 minutes and then rush at 9.0 for 30 to 45 seconds followed by a walk at 3.5 for 1 minute to 1:30 minutes. I do this over and over until I hit the 20-minute mark, and then I do a cool-down for 5 minutes. This will get your heart rate up and bring it down over and over and help burn even more calories than if you just trotted along for 1 hour at a slow speed.
Overall, the goal is to start adding in lifestyle changes that you will stick to long after the summer is over. Start eating a diet that is rich in protein and good, healthy fats, and drink lots of water. Eat small meals throughout the day and never let yourself get so hungry that you will go on a binge. Pack healthy snacks like protein bars or jerky to have with you at all times to eat in between meals. Get a good night's rest every night, and aim to get in the gym or outdoors to be active at least three times a week; five if you can swing it!
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